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Installing CentOS 7.2 on IBM Power System S822LC for high-performance computing (HPC) with a USB device


If you are installing Linux on your IBM® Power® System S822LC server, then the instructions in this article can help you to start and run your system. These instructions are specific to installing CentOS 7 on an IBM Power System S822LC server for high-performance computing (HPC).


Before you power on the system, ensure that you have the following items:

  • Ethernet cables
  • USB storage device of 7 GB or greater
  • An installed Ethernet network with a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server
  • Access to the DHCP server’s logs
  • Power cords and outlet for your system
  • PC or notebook that has IPMItool level 1.8.15 or greater
  • A Virtual Network Computing (VNC) client

Download the CentOS ISO file from the Centos Mirror. Select the “Everything” ISO file.

Note: You must use the 1611 release (dated 22 December 2016) or later due to Linux kernel support for the server hardware.

Step 1: Preparing to power on your system

Perform the following steps to prepare your system:

  1. If your system belongs in a rack, install your system into that rack. For instructions, see IBM POWER8® Systems information.
  2. Connect an Ethernet cable to the left embedded Ethernet port next to the serial port on the back of your system and the other end to your network. This Ethernet port is used for the baseboard management controller (BMC) or Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI).
  3. Connect another Ethernet cable to the right Ethernet port for network connection for the operating system.
  4. Connect the power cords to the system and plug them into the outlets.

At this point, your firmware is booting.

Step 2: Determining the BMC firmware IP address

To determine the IP address of the BMC, examine the latest DHCP server logs for the network connected to the server. The IP address will be requested approximately 2 minutes after being powered on.

It is possible to set the BMC to a static IP address by following the IBM documentation on IPMI.

Step 3: Connecting to the BMC firmware with IPMItool

After you have a network connection set up for your BMC firmware, you can connect using IPMI. IPMI is the default console to use when connecting to the Open Power Abstraction Layer (OPAL) firmware.

Use the following default authentication for servers over IPMI:

  • Default user: ADMIN
  • Default password: admin

To power on your server from a PC or notebook that is running Linux®, follow these steps:

Open a terminal program on your PC or notebook with Activate Serial-Over-LAN using IPMI. Other headings in this section are other IPMI commands you may need.

For the following IPMItool commands, serverip_address is the IP address of the BMC from Step 2, and _ipmi_user and ipmi_password are the default user ID and password for IPMI.

Power on using IPMI

If your server is not powered on, run the following command to power the server on:

ipmitool -I lanplus -H server_ip_address -U ipmi_user -P ipmi_password chassis power on

Activate Serial-Over-LAN mechanism using IPMI

Activate your IPMI console by running this command:

ipmitool -I lanplus -H server_ip_address -U ipmi_user -P ipmi_password sol activate

After powering on your system, the Petitboot interface loads. If you do not interrupt the boot process by pressing any key within 10 seconds, Petitboot automatically boots the first option. At this point the IPMI console will be connected to the operating systems serial. If you get to this stage accidentally, you can deactivate and reboot as explained in the following sections.

Deactivate Serial-Over-LAN mechanism using IPMI

If you need to power off or reboot your system, deactivate the console by running this command:

ipmitool -I lanplus -H server_ip_address -U user-name -P ipmi_password sol deactivate

Reboot using IPMI

If you need to reboot the system, run this command:

ipmitool -I lanplus -H server_ip_address -U user-name -P ipmi_password chassis power reset

Step 4: Creating a USB device and booting

At this point, your IPMI console should contain a Petitboot bootloader menu (as shown in Figure 1) and you are ready to install CentOS 7 on your server.

Figure 1: Petitboot menu for installing CentOS 7


Use a 7 GB (or more) 2.0 (or later) USB flash drive.

Perform the following steps to run the CentOS 7 installer:

  1. To create the bootable USB device, follow the instructions in the CentOS wiki, How to Set Up a USB Key to Install CentOS.
  2. Insert your bootable USB device into the front USB port. CentOS AltArch installer will automatically appear as a boot option on the Petitboot main screen. If the USB device does not appear, select Rescan devices. If your device is not detected, you might have to try a different type.
  3. Press the Up Arrow key to select the CentOS boot option. Press e (Edit) to open the Petitboot Option Editor screen.
  4. Move the cursor to the Boot arguments section and include the following information:

    ro inst.stage2=hd:LABEL=CentOS_7_ppc64le:/ console=hvc0 ip=dhcp

Figure 2. Editing boot arguments in Petitboot to load CentOS 7 installer


Notes about the boot arguments:

  • ip=dhcp is required to ensure that network is started for VNC installation.
  • console hvc0 is needed as this is not the default.
  • inst.stage2 is needed as the boot process won’t automatically find the stage2 installation on the install disk.
  • inst.proxy=URL is added, where URL is the proxy URL if installing in a network that requires a proxy to connect externally.

You can find additional options at Anaconda Boot Options.

After editing the boot arguments, complete the following steps to boot into the CentOS Installer:

  1. Select OK to save your options and return to the Main menu.
  2. On the Petitboot main screen, select the CentOS AltArch option and then press Enter.

Step 5: Complete your installation

After you select to boot the CentOS installer, the installer wizard walks you through the following steps.

  1. If the CentOS installer was able to obtain a network address through DHCP, it will present an option to enable the VNC. If no option is presented check your network cables.

Figure 3. Activating the VNC on the CentOS installer


  1. Select the Start VNC option and it will provide an OS server IP address. Note that this will be different from the BMC address previously obtained.

Figure 4. Screen after activating the VNC on the CentOS installer


During the installation over VNC, there are a couple of consoles that are active. To switch between them in the IPMItool terminal, press C trl+B and then between 14 as indicated (at the bottom of the screen in Figure 4).

  1. Run a VNC client program on your PC or notebook and connect to the OS server’s IP address.

Figure 5. Language selection on the CentOS installer

Using the VNC client program:

  1. After selecting a device, click Install Destination.
  2. Click the Full disk summary and boot loader link at the bottom-left corner of the window. The SELECTED DISKS dialog box (as shown in Figure 6) is displayed.

Figure 6. CentOS 7 full disk summary (editing the selected disks)


  1. In the SELECTED DISKS dialog box, click Do not install boot loader.

Figure 7. CentOS 7 full disk summary (after clicking) _Do not install boot loader)


Without disabling boot loader, the installer complains about an invalid stage1 device. Disabling the boot loader is needed as the installer assumes a PReP partition is required. A PReP partition is needed on older hardware and if running CentOS in a VM. On newer hardware when installing CentOS baremetal, Petitboot acts as the bootloader.

If you have a local CentOS repository, you can set this by selecting Install Source. The directories at this URL should look like CentOS’s Install Source for ppc64le.

Step 6: Before reboot and using the IPMI Serial-Over-LAN

Before reboot, generate the grub.cfg file as Petitboot uses this to generate its boot menu:

  1. In the terminal program that looks similar to Figure 4, press Ctrl+B. Then press 2 to open the shell screen.
  2. Enter the following commands to generate a grub.cfg file.
chroot /mnt/sysimage
rm /etc/grub.d/30_os-prober
grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

/etc/grub.d/30_os-prober is removed as Petitboot probes the other devices anyway. So, including it would create lots of duplicate menu items.

The last step is to restart your system.

Note: While your system is restarting, remove the USB device.

After the system restarts, Petitboot displays the option to boot CentOS 7.2. Select this option and press Enter.


After you have booted CentOS, your server is ready to go! For more information, see the following resources: